Who is Pamela Jones?
November 14, 2005
The blog mob loves to spout off about First Amendment
freedom, except when it seeks to deprive foes of the same. And so it was that bloggers
came to the defense of one of their own--a mystery woman named Pamela Jones--and
succeeded in having a story about her retracted and getting its author all but fired.
Jones has become a star in the blog-riddled Linux software movement. Her blog, Groklaw, sprang up in 2003 to cover a Linux-related lawsuit that software firm SCOGroup had filed against IBM. It cranks out lengthy articles, and it archives every document filed in the case.
Jones describes herself as a journalist, yet her blog is unabashedly pro-IBM, insisting from the start that SCO's claims are groundless. She won't discuss her background or reveal where she lives or even confirm that Pamela Jones is her real name. Her Web site is registered through a proxy service in Arizona that shields her identity. PJ (her nickname) lists no phone number and won't say how she funds her operation.
SCO executives call Groklaw a "mouthpiece" for IBM, though IBM says it isn't involved with Jones in any way. Last year Jones' blog published an IBM legal document two days before the court made it public, a sign that it likely was leaked by lawyers involved in the case. IBM's outside lawyers in the case won't comment.
In February an intrepid reporter, Maureen O'Gara, decided to uncloak the mystery after she found a phone number Jones had left with staff at the federal courthouse in Nevada where a related SCO suit was filed. O'Gara traced the number to an apartment in Hartsdale, N.Y., 10 miles from IBM headquarters in Armonk. O'Gara spoke to the building superintendent and later found Jones' mother in Connecticut, but she never got hold of the shy blogger herself.
When O'Gara's story about her quest appeared in Linux Business News, an online magazine, indignant bloggers went on the attack. They said the story was unethical and demanded that the site take it down. (So much for free speech.) When the site's publisher, Sys-Con Media, refused, anonymous callers bombarded employees with obscene phone calls and e-mails. They also badgered Sys-Con's advertisers to get them to pull ads from Sys-Con sites. Hackers shut down Sys-Con's Web site for four days, robbing it of $200,000 in ad revenue.
So Sys-Con caved in, yanking the story and agreeing to forgo articles written by O'Gara. "What are my options?We have criminal people who were taking us hostage, trying to destroy my business," says Sys-Con Chief Fuat Kircaali.
Jones responded by penning a pious thank-you to her defenders. "My faith in the human race is restored," she wrote. "It means so much to me to know that there is still a line, an ethical line, and some things we agree we ought never to do to a fellow human."
Maureen O'Gara remains banned from publishing articles on Sys-Con's 16 sites. And Pamela Jones remains shrouded in mystery.